The Tarot of Light and Shadow

It is not unheard of for a tarot deck to have an additional card or two added for an added effect. You may remember when I reviewed the Santa Muerte Oracle, the creator discussed how it could be used in conjunction with his Santa Muerte Tarot Deck. (Both decks are wonderful, by the way.) However, I was particularly intrigued when I learned about “The Tarot of Light and Shadow” by John Matthews and Andrea Aste, which has two decks packaged together.

What is so compelling about the “Tarot of Light and Shadow” is the decks and their accompanying guide are built from the ground up on the idea of using both decks for a single reading. Examining a shadow side is not as misunderstood as it used to be. It is not as simple as Light = good and Shadow = bad. From the accompanying guide:

“It is important to understand that when you choose to work with the double deck that it shows us truths from two angles, mirroring each other in a strange and wonderful way. The two sides should never be seen as somehow positive and negative, with the light deck good and the shadow deck bad. Put such thoughts from your mind. We are a naturally dualistic species, and it can be hard not to see things in this way – but the “Tarot of Light and Shadow” is not like this. It sets out to show you not only two aspects of card, but to show you h ow they relate – how the inclusion of cards from one aspect or the other changes what you see.”

The artwork by Andrea Aste is wonderful, full stop. However, genuine applause is due for the effort put into creating paired artwork. The cards mirror each other but are not just reflections. Subtle changes are made between Light and Shadow to highlight deeper and different meanings between them. For instance, let’s looks at one of my favorites from the deck, Death. Note the different flags, how the Light version has heads on the ground, where the shadow shows plants blooming. Each card deserves careful study, which only makes you appreciate the work of Matthews and Aste more.

Obviously, if you choose, you can use each deck by itself. Although Matthews outlines several thoughtful ways you can use the decks together.

On social media I called out Watkins for putting on the back of the deck box, “The most subtle and insightful tarot ever created.” Now I am not claiming to have seen every deck ever made, or even being a tarot expert, but in my opinion “The Tarot of Light and Shadow” by John Matthews and Andre Aste may very well be the most subtle and insightful tarot ever created. A truly impressive feat.

You can learn more here.

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